Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Key step allowing cell migration

10.07.2003


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered a prime regulator of the mechanism by which human cells migrate in health and in illness, a process crucial to sustaining life.



Their work helps explain how cells can stick to a surface long enough to pull themselves and move forward and then release that grip so that they can continue and not be anchored to one spot.

Cai Huang, a graduate student about to complete his doctorate in cell and developmental biology at the UNC School of Medicine, led the project. He and colleagues showed for the first time that an important enzyme known as JNK, which is involved in many cell regulatory pathways, also controls a central and complex step in the biochemical process.


A report on their work appears in the July 10 issue of Nature, the top British science journal. Co-authors are Drs. Ken Jacobson and Michael Schaller, professors of cell and developmental biology; Dr. Zenon Rajfur, research assistant professor of cell and developmental biology; and Dr. Christoph Borchers, assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics and faculty director of the UNC Proteomics Core Facility.

"Cell migration is involved in a variety of normal and pathological events in life, including embryo development, wound healing and the abnormal, life-threatening movement of cancer cells that doctors call metastasis," Jacobson said. "Cai’s work demonstrates how phosphorylation of a single serine residue of an important protein component of cell adhesion, paxillin, can regulate cell migration."

Phosphorylation is a major signal in biology that involves joining a phosphorus group to specific amino acids, one of the ways living things regulate functions of proteins, he said. A serine residue is one of the 20 or so amino acids that are linked together in various combinations to form the many different proteins found in cells.

"For cells to be able to move, they must have adhesions that can break down from time to time," Jacobson said. "If they were permanent--in other words too sticky--the cell would be stuck. The new work shows this phosphorylation event is important in signaling the cell to disassemble some of its adhesions so that it can move."

The experiments were done on both fish scale cells and rat bladder tumor cells. They identify a specific biochemical pathway by which signals from outside cells--provided by hormones and growth factors--can regulate cell locomotion, he said. Understanding the complex cascade of molecular events could become a key to solving the mystery of how to stop cancer cells in their tracks, like nailing shoes to the floor.

"Another significance of this study is beyond cell migration," Huang said. "Previously, JNK was thought to function solely in cell nuclei. Our finding that paxillin, which is called a focal adhesion protein, is a target for the JNK enzyme indicates that JNK also plays an important role in cytoplasm, which is outside the nucleus."

Thus, the experiments greatly expand knowledge of what JNK does, he said.

"We expect to identify more cytoplasmic JNK targets in the near future," Huang said.



Besides cell and developmental biology, the researchers are affiliated with UNC’s Comprehensive Center for Inflammatory Disorders, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and department of biochemistry and biophysics.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Cell Migration Consortium and the National Institute for Dental and Cranial Research supported the studies.

Note: Jacobson and Huang can be reached at 919-966-5703, frap@med.unc.edu or cai_huang@med.unc.edu.

David Williamson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>